From the Se­ries: Pho­to­g­ra­phers, Friend­ships, and the Unique Gru­ber Col­lec­tion

Re­nate Gru­ber re­mem­bers:
#07 Alvin Lang­don Coburn

In 1977 the L. Fritz and Re­­­nate Gru­ber Col­lec­­­tion laid the foun­­­da­­­tion for the pho­­­tog­ra­­­phy col­lec­­­tion at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. Icons of pho­­­to­­­graph­ic his­­­to­ry from Man Ray, Ce­­­cil Bea­t­on, or Au­­­gust San­der of­fer a pano­ra­­­ma of twen­ti­eth-cen­­­tu­ry pho­­­tog­ra­­­phy. Yet the Gru­ber Col­lec­­­tion is not on­­­ly unique due to the pho­­­to­­­graphs them­­­selves, but al­­­so in light of its ge­n­e­­­sis. The col­lec­­­tion took shape as a re­­­sult of the col­lec­­­tors’ long­­­time friend­­­ships with the pho­­­to­g­ra­phers. On the oc­­­ca­­­sion of her eight­i­eth birth­­­day in Ju­­­ly 2016, Re­­­nate Gru­ber shares her very per­­­so­n­al me­m­ories of twen­­­ty pho­­­to­g­ra­phers who are now among the most fa­­­mous of the twen­ti­eth cen­­­tu­ry in our se­ries "Pho­­­to­g­ra­phers, Friend­­­ships, and the Unique Gru­ber Col­lec­­­tion."

Alvin Lang­don Coburn (b. June 11, 1882 in Bos­ton, † Novem­ber 23, 1966 in Rhos-on-Sea, Col­wyn Bay, Nord­wales) al­ready ex­per­i­ment­ed with pho­tog­ra­phy as ear­ly as 1898. In 1901/02, he opened a pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio in New York Ci­ty. He met Al­fred Stieglitz, who was the first to ex­hib­it Eu­ro­pean Avant­garde artists in in New York, and was one of the foun­ders of the "Pho­to-Se­ces­sion". As a por­trait pho­to­g­ra­pher, he por­trayed nu­mer­ous celebri­ties, while at the same time tak­ing pic­tures of Ci­ty- and Land­s­capes with a fo­cus on their at­mo­sphere and moods. He ex­per­i­ment­ed with cam­eras with­out lens­es and soft-fo­cus and cre­at­ed an ex­traor­d­i­nary mood in his pic­tures. In 1912, he moved to ru­ral Wales. Af­ter 1918 un­til his death in 1966, he aban­doned pho­tog­ra­phy and de­vot­ed his studies to spir­i­tu­al­ism, mys­ti­cism, and free­ma­son­ry.